Archive for December, 2012

Palladium vs. White Gold for Celtic Puzzle Engagement Rings with Wedding Bands

December 28th, 2012 Comments off

A client just asked me about why I often recommend palladium for a Celtic-inspired puzzle engagement ring, especially if it is to be worn with a wedding band, other than a traditional Poesy ring (in which case 14K white gold is best).

His comments are in blue, and my responses are in black.

I have done some searching on the Internet and it seems it is mostly a personal preference between palladium or white gold, along with some very unscientific opinions.   Some (possibly) myths I read are:

Myth 1: Palladium is difficult to work with, This is true to the extent that platinum is hard to work with. This is because it is initially more malleable than gold, but all platinum-family metals work-harden with wear over time, which means they become more durable the longer they are worn. As opposed to gold that simply wears away over time – if you have seen your grandmother’s or great-grandmother’s gold jewelry, you’ll know what I mean, as there is very little left after 40-50 or more years. This would be triply true of sterling silver, which we do not, in any case, use for puzzle engagement rings, as it is not strong enough to bear stones. A sterling engagement ring would be worn away in record time.

However, this is also not true, depending on how you are working with the metals. Yes, platinum and palladium are more difficult to cast, so it takes expert casters. Occasionally we will have difficulty with a casting, so we’ll redo it – this is not a concern for you, though, because what you get is the perfect final product.  (Incidentally, the only rings we’ve had problems casting were ones with particularly fine lettering fonts, but we stopped using those fonts and haven’t had any issues, since.)

And as far as making a palladium or platinum  puzzle ring – we prefer to work with them (as does any hand-fabricator of jewelry) because they are more malleable and easier to hand weave than gold.

Myth 2: Palladium cannot be re-sized Palladium can absolutely be resized. We resize palladium puzzle rings all the time. All of our puzzle rings come with one free resize (you just pay the FedEx shipping back and forth on our account for best insurance and tracking). Subsequent resizes down the road are done at a fraction of what a regular jewelry store would charge for  four bands. The reason people probably say it can’t be resized is because it takes some work and practice to find the correct solder and soldering method for your work – there is really only one company in the country that sells solder for palladium – it is known as 20K white, and it is recommended by the Palladium Alliance. There is no such thing as palladium solder yet.

Myth 3: And it may be difficult to find a jeweler locally to work on your ring. That may be true, depending upon where you live, but we ask that you not put your Crystal Realm rings into the hands of local jewelers, as we cannot guarantee your outcome. In fact, if you have work done on a puzzle ring by a local jeweler and it is damaged, then it voids our lifetime pledge for the ring.

Myth 4: Some sites said a palladium ring is lighter than WG, but I found another site that said the density of 14K WG and Palladium are nearly identical, hence the same style ring would weigh the same. Both are true. Palladium is approximately 96% of the weight of 14K gold, so it is nearly identical, yet a tad lighter.

Any chance you have a palladium and WG ring pictured side by side? Read on . . .

Are most of the rings pictured on crystal realm Palladium?  Some platinum? Our rings are variously platinum, palladium, and white gold.

I’ve updated our White Metals page with images, each of which links to the actual ring or set on my site. If you are facile with browser windows, you can bring up the large pictures on product pages side by side in separate windows.

Is a palladium ring 100% palladium metal, or is the setting WG? All palladium. In the beginning, before we could get palladium settings, we made palladium rings with platinum settings.

This ring pictured, is it all palladium? 14K White gold. See how the metal is not dead white – it is slightly creamish? (We can use a palladium setting, if you like, on a white gold ring to give a more true white to the diamond setting.)

I guess my preference towards white gold is mostly out of familiarity with gold as a precious metal and not familiar or haven’t seen palladium jewelry.  From what you’re telling me it has similar color and long wearing traits as platinum, at a fraction of the price?

We are at an interesting time historically for palladium. It is less costly than gold, even, right now, and that is primarily because demand is low. Although it has been used for jewelry by some jewelers since 1939, it was not used on a widespread basis until about ten years ago.  Then when it burst widely on the market, the metal had been badly alloyed, and a lot of jewelers who tried it decided it was a bad metal.  That problem was quickly resolved, and those who’ve been willing to use it have been richly rewarded.  It does have all the same wonderful qualities as platinum, without the astronomical cost.  It also has the benefit of being probably the most ethically mined precious metal of all – it is domestically sourced, as it is mined in Montana. You will still see jewelers online who say it’s not a good metal, but they have not tried it since that time ten years ago.  I have learned much about the history of the metal from the folks at the Palladium Alliance International, whom I see in Tucson each February. Until they came along, there was no one speaking for the metal, but that has all changed.  In fact, I strongly suspect that palladium will rise to the level of platinum cost ultimately as demand rises.

As evidence of the excellent quality of palladium, I’d like to offer our Celtic Jeweler. It is Dublin, Ireland’s, oldest and largest jeweler. They make our Irish Celtic rings.  About three years ago, they added palladium to their metals choices, and, in fact, just looking, you won’t see any difference in the rings between the 14K white gold (which is rhodium plated), palladium, and platinum.  We have sold many more of their palladium rings since they introduced it than white gold and yellow gold put together.

Here are two of their rings:
Two rings in white gold with rhodium finish
Bridal set in palladium

Do palladium bands match the puzzle ring mostly because it is a pure metal without a plating and WG from different manufacturers may be slightly different alloys or finishes?

All palladium jewelry from different sources matches in color as platinum does, because both palladium and platinum are used 95% pure. Only 5% is alloyed metals – unlike 14K gold, which is 58.5% gold and a mish-mash of 41.5% alloys, with every manufacturer using a different formula for their alloys, so white golds turn out all different shades of white, from creamish to rose-ish.  So that is why they plate them all with rhodium (another platinum-family metal) to turn them all a uniform white. Then the rhodium wears off, so people end up with off-white white gold, or they spend a fortune in maintenance over the years. Currently, for a plain 4mm band, to have it cleaned, polished, and re-rhodium plated, a local jeweler just quoted me $65.00 to $85.00, and jewelers have told me people have their rings replated from 1 – 3 times per year, depending upon how hard they are on their jewelry.

The purity of palladium and platinum is also the reason why they are both non-allergenic. Neither contains nickel or zinc.

I really like the unique look of your puzzle engagement rings, I’m just a bit nervous about picking out and buying expensive once in a lifetime jewelry sight unseen.  I have to make sure I’ve asked all the right questions, so that what I order and what I want are indeed the same things.

I totally understand. Why don’t you start by ordering our tester ring – this will give you a sterling silver example of our work.  It’s a great way to evaluate it and learn to put it together, and then if you proceed with an engagement ring, we apply the $50.00 to your engagement ring order. The tester ring is the very same 4-band, medium-weight puzzle ring that we use for the engagement rings, only it is woven to be worn without a stone (non-custom, in other words).

I could not agree with you more about your concern to ensure that “what you want is what you get.” That is always my goal with my clients. I like the way you said it even better – that what you order is what you want.

We have other ways of ensuring your happiness before you order, beyond the tester ring.  The vast majority of my clients are happy with ordering a sizer and a tester ring (well, I should say the majority of those who choose any pre-ordering options, as many people just order straight away), but if you are interested, I can email you more information about what else we can do.  Also, we always like to deliver the puzzle ring before proceeding with any kind of wedding band, so we make sure it fits, and if it doesn’t, we’ll adjust the size before proceeding.  And one more thing – if you order a puzzle ring in palladium and then you get it and decide you REALLY wish you had ordered white gold, we will remake the ring in white gold for you. I would be very surprised though.

I’ve just entered your name and email address into my puzzle ring email list – this will start a series of nine emails that you will get each day starting tomorrow.  It is not an email list that morphs from nine daily emails into an infinity of emails. It goes for nine days and stops.  It is more geared towards folks who have already ordered, but many people find it useful when they are contemplating ordering.

Any questions? Please just let me know!

Mandira Feldvebel


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